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Like many other graduates, I left Ireland knowing I wanted to come back

Some days I ache for Dublin. I long for its old haunts, restaurants, pubs, faces, places.

Sean Murray

THE WHISPERS BEGAN mid-way through our second year in college. “Yeah, spending our time discussing James Joyce, drinking cheap beer and playing Fifa on an endless loop certainly is fun, but what’s gonna happen after? Where are we gonna work? The IMF is in town. The country’s f*cked.”

Indeed it was. I prolonged the agony of entering the Irish workplace (beyond my college part-time job) by doing a master’s.

When I finished my master’s, though, the extent of the problem I was facing was very clear. I had studied English in university.

My passion was writing, finding a story or narrative and running with it. It’s what I do and I think, I hope, I can do it to an adequate standard.

But this meant absolutely nothing to the recruiters looking to fill positions in the graduate job market. I hadn’t done business, IT or science. I’d done English. And now I was really paying for it.

As the months went on, it became increasingly obvious I would have to leave this country. As I saved money doing my rather depressing retail job, I watched friends who’d done the same course begin jobs in the very areas we wanted to be in.

Precarious work

The only catch? They were JobBridge internships. Not only did they have to be on the dole for a certain period of time to apply, they were certain to be jettisoned once the period had expired.

One friend secured a great role in a well-respected Irish cultural group. He worked extremely hard to draft all of their written content. I’ve seen his work, he did a good job.

After six months, they got rid of him to get the next graduate off the assembly line. I wasn’t prepared to give up paid work to do a job that I wanted to do but for no money. The only option then was emigration.

Missing home

Don’t get me wrong, I like London. I’ve got a decent job, doing what I want to do. It has excellent transport, there’s always plenty to do, and it’s only an hour away from home.  But it’s also expensive and just plain massive.

My biggest grievance with London, however, couldn’t be clearer: it’s just not Dublin.

It’s not the home I grew up in. Dublin has a million pluses and minuses as well, but it’s familiar, it’s recognisable – it’s home.

It’s where my family are, it’s where my friends are. I’ve made friends here, and regularly have good times but I’m never able to detach the sense that something’s amiss.

I haven’t been able to call London “home” and don’t think I ever will.

Some days I ache for Dublin. Its old haunts, restaurants, pubs, faces, places – it all adds up to that unmistakable feeling of belonging, a feeling that I won’t get here or anywhere else.

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No option

I have no ill feeling for Ireland. I left it because I had to. I didn’t leave to see the world, to have a good time, or to leave a place I loathed.

I left it because I want to come back to it.

I came to London to work just long enough that I could return to Dublin with the best opportunities possible. I want to make a career there, start a family there, live my life there.

The economic catastrophe that befell the country left me with no choice but to leave. I could air my anger at the people who caused it, but that won’t do me any good. Neither will trying to second-guess the so-called “recovery”.

I desperately want to return to Ireland. I want to go home. But if I’m being realistic, it won’t be next month. It probably won’t even be next year.

So I stay here, working in my job, getting by, quietly building up enough experience to make sure that when I eventually get to return home, it’s for good.

Sean Murray is originally from Ballyfermot and emigrated a year ago. He lives in North-West London with his partner, Ciara, who he says has been an invaluable companion through the tough times so far. He writes for an online healthcare publication and spends his free time searching for a decent pint of Guinness in London (the search goes on, sadly).

About the author:

Sean Murray

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